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Candidates rake in cash for Ward 2 campaign
Advance voting for all municipal elections begins Tuesday
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Candidates for the Gainesville City Council Ward 2 position have already reported thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in what is normally a quiet re-election cycle.

Campaign contributions reported to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission last week show that newcomer candidate Debra Harkrider is running a self-funded campaign.

Harkrider reported raising, and spending, $4,370 on her inaugural election bid through Sept. 30. More than half of that money was spent hiring Landmark Communications to manage the local businesswoman's campaign.

A number of local candidates have used the company in the past, including former state Sen. Lee Hawkins and Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell.

"I haven't run for an office in my adult life," Harkrider said of the decision to use a campaign management firm. "...I wanted to make sure that I basically educated myself and had someone that could tell me what the right way to run a campaign is."

Harkrider's opponent, Bob Hamrick, has served consecutive terms on the City Council since he was first elected in 1969.

Last week, Hamrick reported raising $2,575 for his re-election campaign since June 30.

All but $250 of those contributions came from donors who gave in increments smaller than $100, according to the report Hamrick filed last week.

One of Hamrick's recent contributions came from the campaign coffers of Bell, whose district includes Gainesville.

"Campaign to Elect Ashley Bell" contributed $250 to Hamrick's campaign on Aug. 31.

"He just gave it, and I certainly appreciate it," Hamrick said of Bell's contribution.

According to his report, Hamrick spent $120 on a voter listing from the Hall County Elections Office. He also spent $120 to advertise at a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.

Matthews Printing donated $220 worth of campaign cards for Hamrick to hand out to potential voters.

The councilman already had $1,000 on-hand from a previous reporting period; by Sept. 30, Hamrick still had more than $2,700.

That's likely because Hamrick's campaign strategy doesn't cost a lot of money.

"I have made a lot of personal telephone calls and sent a lot of personal emails, and (am) just going out and meeting people and shaking hands and asking for their votes," Hamrick said.

Harkrider said her next report will show she's raised at least $1,650 from other donors. Harkrider said she donated the first $4,370 to her campaign, because she wanted to "have everything already in place."

"It's not that I've decided to (self-fund the campaign)," Harkrider said. "There's just so much up-front costs.

Of those costs, both Harkrider and Hamrick reported a $605 qualifying fee they paid to the Gainesville city clerk's office.

Harkrider also reported another $630 in costs for yard signs; about $200 on campaign pens; $370 on a campaign website, T-shirts, business cards and hats; and $56 on a name badge.

Though Harkrider and Hamrick are vying for the Ward 2 seat, Gainesville residents elect them citywide.

Before the Nov. 8 election, the two candidates will file another financial report detailing all contributions collected by Oct. 25. That report is due Nov. 1.

Advance voting for all municipal elections begins Tuesday.


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